45: Happy Birthday to Me

When I was in elementary school I had a teacher who bought a stack of books to give away on the last day of class before Summer. All the boys wanted the same one, a sci-fi, “Choose your own adventure,” time travel story, with multiple endings. We all had to pick a number from 1 to 100 and try to match the teacher’s random pick. I knew the smartest answer would be to go right in the middle, 50, but I felt liked 45 sounded better. It was close enough to the middle to be reasonably smart but, more importantly, I had a connection to it, in one of those silly, superstitious, synchronicity kind of ways that we all get tempted by from time to time; when something just feels right.

As it happened (dumb luck, I know) the teacher also chose 45 and the prized book was mine. Since then I’ve often noticed 45 in my life, as if it were significant. I know, that’s the way the mind works, we all see patterns that aren’t really there (e.g. noticing the two times that 45 happens to comes up in one day and ignoring the hundreds, if not thousands of other numbers you might have encountered). Still, I’ve continued to imagine that it mattered; that it was my, “lucky number.”

Today is my forty fifth birthday and we are on the verge of electing our forty fifth president. Oh yeah, and my son just told me the other night that his current weight is forty five pounds. In the back of my mind I have long imagined that this will be a lucky year for me; a major turning point. But that seems increasingly silly.

For the last month or so I have been fixating on the fact that I will soon be closer to 50 than 40. A half a century and what have I done with it? The sad truth is, I have spent far too much time trying to, “be somebody,” and looking to measurements of worth that are worthless. I have also spent too little time appreciating what I have. I think it’s time to stop freaking out about numbers and get on with life.

So, maybe 45 is a turning point, and a marker of “lucky” times ahead, but only if I choose to make it so. Man, I’m getting corny in my old age. Before you know it I’ll be writing self-help books about the power of positive thinking. Okay, I probably won’t go that far, but at least I’m finally happy with the path I’m on and the man I’ve become.

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